Waatea News Update

News from Waatea 603 AM, Urban Maori radio, first with Maori news

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, October 31, 2008

Further charges against Urewera five

A Tuhoe leader says the laying of new charges against five of the 17 people arrested a year ago in connection with camps in Te Urewera has sunk attempts by police to patch up relationships with the iwi.

Crown prosecutor Ross Burns has told defence lawyers that Tuhoe activist Tame Iti and four others will be charged with participating in a criminal group.

He also intends relaying arms charges which the judge at a preliminary hearing threw out because of lack of evidence.

Tamati Kruger says the Crown has abandoned empirical evidence and is now trying to prove guilt by association.

He says the arrests make a mockery of talks Tuhoe leaders have been having with police about last October's arrests and lock-down of the Ruatoki valley.

“Those talks now I think have become a lot more difficult in light really of what we see as the trawling through laws to find something that may save the police from utter disgrace over this whole painful incident,” Mr Kruger says.

He says the new charges won't diminish support in Ruatoki for Tame Iti, nor diminish Tuhoe's determination to defend its reputation and honour.

SHARPLES SAYS TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN

Meanwhile, the Maori Party wants the Attorney-General to check whether the new charges are legal.

Co-leader Pita Sharples says special powers of search and surveillance granted under one Act shouldn't be used to lay lesser charges under other Acts.

He says the police operation was a farce which should be brought to a halt.

“It was a bully tactics, the way it was carried out, and we’re considering now taking steps to have the Attorney General squash the whole thing. It’s gone on too long. It’s a farce. The investigation was done under the Terrorism Act and yet the charges were laid under the Firearms Act and that's gotta be wrong,” Dr Sharples says.

TE AUTE CHAIR RETRACTS NEGOTIATION PULL-OUT

The chair of the Te Aute Trust Board is trying to keep the door open on a bail-out offer for the Hawkes Bay Maori boarding school.

Stan Pardoe wrote to the government on Wednesday pulling out of negotiations.

That was before he saw a letter from Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia and Finance Minister Michael Cullen, promising support and funding to improve facilities and courses at Te Aute and sister college Hukarere.

The letter was dated October the 14th, but only sent to negotiators this week.

Mr Pardoe responded this afternoon, asking the ministers to focus on the Crown's abuse of Te Aute's endowment lands, which has starved the schools of resources over the past century.

“The Crown has since 1916 put its attention on the education. It’s never addressed the endowment, and the endowment is the problem. We’re asking this time, leave the education issues aside, there’s a body of people that can work on that from the schools, from the ministry of education. We’re happy with the that, but the focus should be on the endowment, and until we address that, we will continue to have problems,” Mr Pardoe says.

He says the Education Ministry has forced the Te Aute Trust Board to pay for building upgrades which were the government's responsibility.

HAPU THREATENED BY CONSPIRACY CHARGES

Tuhoe leader Tamati Kruger says new charges against Tame Iti and four others are a threat to traditional Maori social structures.
The Crown says it will charge Iti, Tuhoi Lambert, Emily Bailey, Urs Signer and Whiri Kemara with participating in a criminal group, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

That's on top of arms charges laid as a result of their participation in camps in Te Uruwera last year, at which weapons were allegedly present.

Mr Kruger says it's an attack on free speech and the rights of Maori to associate together.

"Organisations, social structures like whanau, marae, hapu are pretty much now part of this conversation. The people that Tame associates with are people related to him as well as people he shares interests in and they share, besides a political view, social and cultural interests as well,” Mr
Tamati Kruger says.

He says people in Tuhoe knew about the long-running camps and supported their aims ... which did not have the criminal intent the police are alleging.

GET OUT THE VOTE EFFORT WARMING UP IN HAURAKI-WAIKATO

Early voting and kaumatua cars are being used to help boost the Maori vote in this year's election.

Turn-out in Maori seats has traditionally been lower than in general seats ... with rangatahi aged between 18-25 a particular concern.

Nanaia Mahuta, who is contesting the reconfigured Tainui seat of Hauraki-Waikato from Labour, says getting Maori out to vote is crucial.

It is possible for voters to enrol until November the SEVENTH... the day before the general election.

CANDIDATE DEBATE IN WAHAROA

Still in Hauraki-Waikato ... it may not be on quite the same scale as the US presidental debates, but undecided voters will have a chance to check out the two top candidates in Waharoa on Sunday.

Organiser Russell Haimona says the get-together with Labour's Nanaia Mahuta and the Maori Party's Angeline Greensill in the Gateway Cafe should produce civilised, marae style korero.

It will be a chance for people ask the candidates about issues that concern them.

NGATI POROU SIGN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FOR FORESHORE

The Government and 48 hapu of Ngati Porou today signed a deed of agreement recognising their customary rights to the foreshore and seabed on the East Coast.

About 300 people were at Parliament for the signing, the first of its kind.
Api Mahuika, the chair of te Runanga o Ngati Porou, says the iwi opened negotiations in 2003, when it first got wind the Government was considering changing the law to stop Maori pursuing foreshore claims through the courts.

“The Crown by the Foreshore and Seabed (Act) confiscated or took away the mana of Ngati Porou to its foreshore and seabed. The deed today was the revitalisation of the mana that had always been in there and brought it back again into reality, and the Crown recognition of that mana is important to us,” Mr Mahuika says.

The settlement legislation, when it is passed, will give the iwi and its hapu a greater say over developments and regulatations affecting its takutaimoana.

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